In the parlance of hardcore board game nerds, Great Western Trail is a "point salad" game. One with endless number of ways to cobble together enough points to attain victory. As you're building the best deck of cattle cards, or hiring helping hands at the right time, each turn will bombard you with a huge array of loosely connected options... and, more often than not, total analysis paralysis. Definitely one of the best pure-strategy games of the 2010's, Great Western Trail will have you using the phrases 'herding cattle' and 'taking part in an ultimate test of strategic mettle' interchangeably.
Price: $70, amazon.com
Finally, with a raised fist, the game stops as one team's Captain, at her first First Mates's suggestion, fires a torpedo, crashing into the opponents submarine to the chorus heavy groans from the losing players. Buy Captain Sonar, and you will play it whenever you have eight players at the ready.
Price: $75, amazon.com
Although battling your friends with coal-powered mechs is a significant part of the game, Scythe is by no means a combat-centric slog. The game actively penalizes direct warfare, which might sound frustrating but makes the game all the more strategic and balanced. You'll find yourself immersed in Scythe's strategy and aesthetics as you plan each turn's single action. For example: First you might complete a quest to steal food and money from local farmers, next you'll build a mine to connect territories across the board, and lastly you'll sweep into a nearby Soviet territory to do battle and steal all their iron.
Price: $80.00 Amazon
In this asymmetric slog, you either take command of the Rebels, sending heroes like Luke and Leia across the galaxy to foment rebellion, or helm the Galactic Empire, fielding massive armadas of spaceships to scour for the rebel base, destroying planets with Death Stars, and capturing the rebel heroes in the process. Like an abandoned star system, you will finish this huge game utterly depleted.
Price: $72.99 Amazon
Each player flips through a deck of interstellar "malfunction" cards while hunting for all 6 of the spaceship cards hidden among them. You solve each malfunction card by laying down specific "tool" cards, of which everyone has a hand. The problem? The tool cards are dispersed through all the players, requiring you to call aloud for them by physical description, or by their absurd names. You'll find yourself repeatedly yelling "The Quasipaddle! I need the Quasipaddle!" or "For the love of god, I still need the circle-y vacuum looking thing with handles! Who has it?!"
Price: 24.99 Amazon